Cristalleries de Saint-Louis is a French crystal manufacturer belonging to the Hermès group that produces pieces for the decoration, tableware, lighting and furniture industries. Founded in 1586, it is the oldest crystal factory in France!
It is possible to visit the Saint-Louis crystal works, which allows you to immerse yourself in the know-how of the Moselle crystal makers. You don’t have to be a luxury enthusiast or have the means to buy crystal to enjoy the visit. I recommend that you choose to visit the museum and the factory, not just the museum. It would be a shame not to see the craftsmen at work!
Where is the Cristallerie Saint Louis in France?
The Saint-Louis crystal factory is located in Saint-Louis-les-Bitche in Moselle, in the Münzthal Valley, near the border with Alsace. This region of Lorraine, the Pays de Bitche, as well as the nearby corner of Alsace (Wingen-sur-Moder, where the Lalique factory and its museum are located) are famous for their crystal and glass factories.
The art of glassmaking, a tradition of the Pays de Bitche in Lorraine
A little bit of history to start. The first glass factories can be traced back to the 16th century in the Pays de Bitche, but it is only in the 18th century that real factories developed, employing thousands of people in the region. Nowadays, this glassmaking activity has been considerably reduced but some prestigious factories continue to perpetuate this incredible know-how: Lalique, Daum, Baccarat, Meisenthal or Saint-Louis are among them.
Why were these crystal and glass factor ies established here, in the Bitche region? Simply because the Northern Vosges has the natural resources necessary for the production of glass: wood from the forests to serve as fuel, silica sand extracted from rivers, ferns for the production of potash and finally water.
Glass or crystal?
By the way, what is the difference between crystal and glass? Crystal is in fact a type of glass, in which lead oxide has been added. This addition makes it possible to obtain the most transparent material possible, which diffuses light more widely (higher refractive index) and is therefore more brilliant. Crystal is also more flexible and allows for finer workmanship. There are different qualities of crystal depending on the amount of lead contained.
Visit of La Grande Place – Musée du Cristal St Louis
La Grande Place is the Saint-Louis Crystal Museum. It is a museum presenting the history and techniques of crystal manufacturing and exhibiting 2,000 works of the Saint-Louis crystal factory. An incredible collection that illustrates 4 centuries of technical innovations and artistic creations!
The pure architecture of the place makes the visit particularly pleasant and highlights the collections: vases, carafes, wine glasses, champagne flutes, paperweights, floor lamps, chandeliers…
We discover the incredible precision of the work of crystal and the creativity of the various craftsmen who succeed each other in the work of a piece. Really beautiful to see, whether you are a fan of this type of object or not.
Where to visit a crystal factory? Manufacture Saint-Louis
In addition to the museum, you can visit the Saint-Louis crystal factory: this was my favorite part of the visit. Please note that unlike the visit to the museum, which does not require prior reservation, the guided tours of the Saint-Louis factory are by reservation only.
I really advise you to do it because during the visit you can observe the craftsmen at work, and be amazed by the precision of each of their gestures, which I found particularly fascinating! A path for visitors overlooks the workshops and allows them to see, without disturbing, the different stages of production of a piece.
It is incredible and we understand the prices charged by the crystal. The design of an object goes through many stages: from the shaping of the material by the hot workshop to the cutting of the decoration by the cold workshop, the The work is just enormous to achieve each piece! The number of talented craftsmen who must follow one another for their production is also impressive: glassmakers shaping the objects from the molten crystal, cutters, engravers, decorators…
Each step is essential and executed by high level craftsmen who have been trained for many years. The crystal pieces that leave the workshops of the Maison Saint-Louis are made by master glassmakers and master cutters, including several Meilleurs Ouvriers de France.
To be sure to see the artisans, book your visit in the morning, except on Tuesdays, weekends, vacations and vacations of the artisans (from mid-July to mid-August and during the end of year holidays).
- Watching the artisans at work
- Admire the museum’s exhibits
- Discover the glassmaking know-how, typical of the region
I liked less
- Visit of the factory on reservation: needs to be organized (but it is normal because they also have to organize!)
My photos of the visit of the Saint-Louis crystal factory
Rates and schedules
You will find here the rates and opening hours of the museum and the Saint-Louis factory.
The address is as follows: La Grande Place Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis rue Coëtlosquet 57620 Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche. you have to count:
- 72 km from Strasbourg (about 1 hour)
- 140 km from Colmar (about 1h50)
- 180km from Mulhouse (about 2h15)
By public transport
This is not possible :-/